The coronavirus has gutted the price of coca. It could reshape the cocaine trade.
The great coca crash of 2020 — prices for the leaf in some regions of South America have fallen as much as 73 percent — illustrates the extent to which the pandemic is disrupting every aspect of global trade, including the traffic in illegal drugs.
Lockdowns have sealed regional borders and sharply curbed domestic and international transit, challenging the ability of cartels to move product by land, air or sea. At the same time, the cartels are dealing with global disruptions in the production and importation of precursor chemicals, such as potassium permanganate, that are used in clandestine labs to refine the recreational drug.
As with legitimate goods, the breakdown in the supply chain is upending business models and causing market scarcity that has doubled retail prices in some U.S. cities, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. But for South American coca farmers, the pandemic has, at least temporarily, caused a dive in prices that analysts say could alter the landscape of the illicit drug trade for years to come.
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[Source: Washington Post]